Singapore is a pretty sweaty place. Menswear is inherently reductive and minimalist in nature here. Blazers and cardigans may give you an edge to your look, if there were actually seasons outside of ridiculously hot and humid. The classic t-shirt and jeans combination is the way to go, but is pretty standard fare too. So how do you make something that looks fairly ordinary a little more unique?
Here are 5 brands that bring about a re-imagining. For starters, they sit outside the Nike-Adidas-New Balance axis that dominates the sneaker narrative. As a disclaimer, the majority of my list are high-tops. It is true that high-tops are not that common. If anything, low-tops are the general trend. This may be the established order of things, but these shoes make the most of their size. They are big on comfort, while able to fuse their graphic designs with vibrant colours. Yes, low-tops are easy to fit into your look and are reflected in how easy they are to find. However, they do not require you to up your game to pull them off. There is nothing wrong with trying to fit into the norm.
My value proposition is simple. The article says to kill it, not fit in, like any other sod. If you want to challenge the established order – then lead the charge – there are pumped up kicks out there which take the game to the next level.
1) Creative Recreation (CR)
Creative Recreation (CR) shoes come in a whole swathe of street art inspired designs. These shoes are bold, with a variety of colours and textures which fit perfectly in an urban environment. Founded in LA in 2002, CR’s designs have continued to push the boundaries with their mixture of high-top and low-top designs. The CR logo on the sides and the back give these shoes an edge. Nike’s Air Jordan may have an iconic look, but they have nothing on CR if you are looking at the beauty of aesthetic symmetry. [Writer’s note: A disclaimer that I do have a vested interest, since I own four pairs of these.]
Nostra Black/Red (source)
Cesario Lo XVI (source)
Radii (pronounced Ray-dee-i) first came into the public eye when Jay-Z rocked up in a pair of high-top 420s during the release of Blueprint 3. Headquartered in Southern California, Radii footwear usually have distinctively long velcro or buckle straps for fastening. If those ridiculously long straps did not work, it may very well have looked its place as part of a bondage S&M outfit. However, Radii shoes are no joke. With the right accompaniment, these understated but quirky shoes stands apart from the generic nature of most sneakers. Bulky and boot-like, these high-tops need skinny jeans for maximum effect. Just to highlight one perceived negative, one of the other famous proponents of these shoes are Justin Bieber. [Writer’s Note: Radii’s cool factor has seriously decreased with the Beliebers’ presence.]
Original 420 in white (source)
Straitjacket VLC in Blue (source)
Straitjacket 420 in Black/White/Red (source)
Heyday shoes are versatile and enjoy a strong following in the US from bodybuilders, fitness junkies and trendsetters. The brand itself has proclaimed it as being perfect for moving from “leg day to date night”. Heyday’s designs are definitely experimental in nature. You do not need to be wearing these in the gym to stand out! A critic may well pull out the – “What is with the number of straps, are you a child?” – but across the board, who is to say that there are no casualties when you push the boundaries?
Red Prime Trainer Gym Sneaker (source)
X Oak Super Deb (source)
Prime Trainer Aqua/Black/Grey Gym Sneakers (source)
4) Greedy Genius
Greedy Genius shoes are the true wild card of the deck. These shoes can come in colours and shapes, which are pretty bonkers. Reminiscent of Pharrell Williams’ Ice Cream brand skate shoes, but less garish, the most popular design is the Ocean Runner series, which features a “boat-shaped” design. Still, shoes which are pretty niche will gain a steady following if they are cool. To be concise about this point, Jamie Foxx has rocked these. End of story. These shoes are hard to find and rare, given their limited production, but are well worth it!
Ocean Runner X Red (source)
Wingtip Hi (source)
Skater shoes may be so 2000s, but the punkish skater look definitely comes and goes in cycles. What I really like about these shoes, you do not need a skateboard to rock them. Fallen’s designs are minimalist and understated, with a sharp finish. They also happen to be the only pair that falls outside my high-top snobbery. There are some similarities to Fred Perry in how these shoes are relatively flat, which means that they do sit better at the end of your jeans. The black Slash II design in particular features neon-knitted inscription, with contrast green soles. These shoes are now seriously limited in quantity, because Fallen has stopped production.
Slash II Black/Mint (source)
RDS Fallen Patriot Black/Blood Red (source)